University Press Roundup: Teatime, Arab Americans in Film and the Power of Pauses

As universities come to a close for the summer, learning does not! Check out this collection of the 5 most interesting university press blog posts for this week. We aim to keep you informed, engaged, and part of the ongoing scholarly conversations.

1. Remembering our Veterans during a Pandemic

America celebrates Memorial Day on May 25 and while in-person celebrations and gatherings may have ceased this year, Sarah Wagner points to resources and virtual events to make it possible to honor war veterans with a spirit of resilience (Harvard UP).

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2. Teatime for the Pandemic

May 21 was International Tea Day and Sarah Besky spills the tea on how a beloved calming drink is at the heart of European colonialism, postcolonial economic debates, and the development of modern industrial food science (UC Press).

3. Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Art, Literature, and Community

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, UC Press highlights titles that explore Asian Pacific American identities, from post-war Japan to American suburbs, including Film Quarterly‘s special film dossier available for free for a limited time.

4. Waled Mahdi on Arab Americans in film

Waled Mahdi provides a thoughtful interview on Arab Americans in film, comparing American and Egyptian cinemas and the type-casting of Arab American talent in a post 9/11 world (Syracuse UP).

5. The Power of a Pause

Within the past couple of months, the world has endured much tribulations and anxieties about what comes next in this pathogenic era. Through this, Gerda Roelvink teaches us to embrace slow-downs to make way for new openings. (University of Minnesota Press)

University Press Roundup: White Supremacy, Take-outs and Viral Children

University press blogs share the voices and insights of top scholars, cultivating a community of thought that is valuable in a time of uncertainty.

That’s why Anthem Press has curated a diverse collection of the most interesting university press blog posts from May 11 – May 17. We aim to keep you informed, engaged, and part of the ongoing scholarly conversations.

On May 15, 1970, Mississippi Highway and Safety Patrol and the Jackson city police marched into the historically black Jackson State College in Mississippi and began shooting at students outside the women’s dormitories, killing two. Fifty years later, protests erupted in the unjustified killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, who was murdered while jogging. How do we reconcile these tragedies? Professor Nancy Bristow points to white supremacy (Oxford University Press).

How can we learn from our past mistakes? Bruce Burnett was an esteemed advocate for HIV/AIDS education in New Zealand while Li Wenliang was a disgraced whistleblower for the coronavirus pandemic.

Guest post author Hugh Stevens says, “This is, perhaps, what the living owe the dead: a willingness to learn from what they have told us, from their true statements, the messages they have shared with us, a willingness to learn from their living, and from their dying. Dear Wenliang, dear Bruce, I am still listening to you” (Cambridge University Press).

While cities remain in lockdown and we remain restlessly stuck at home, Natilee Harren reminds us that art can be created from the mundane.

“Now is the time to discover or reinvent your personal rituals and reframe them as art. In the philosophy of Fluxus, everyone’s an artist and everyone can do it. In any case, this is what I do when I don’t know what to do: Pay attention to artists. They know not just how to survive, but how to live—with creativity, wit, compassion, dignity, and grace” (University of Chicago Press).

Speaking of art, theatre productions have been made available online for FREE, some notable ones being Comédie-Française, the Opéra national de Paris, and the National Theatre. But how did people access theatre before the internet? (Liverpool University Press).

And even more art! For those interested in sound art and sound studies, the first issue of Resonance: the Journal of Sound and Culture is OUT and FREE for a limited time! (UC Press).

photo-1585759065152-3b0e2524b869 How about the culinary arts? Miss the dine-in experience? Check out this post written by the authors of the just-published book The Social Significance of Dining Out, which discusses the recent diversification of takeout and the social trends in the practice of eating that have been affected by the pandemic (Manchester University Press).

Can’t get access to hard copy books? Check out these new audiobook releases instead, featuring the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, “cultured” meat as the future of food, wrongful convictions, and the agricultural exchanges on the Silk Road (UC Press).

Feeling hopeless? Read about the interconnection of youthquakes and pandemics and how children going viral will change the world (Oxford University Press).

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Talk of the Town: 5 Things that Happened in the Publishing Industry in April 2020

The world remains restless in April 2020 as some countries and states prepare for reopening while others intensify their fight to combat the novel coronavirus.

That’s why Anthem Press has curated 5 note-worthy articles that contribute to a holistic understanding of the current state and future trajectory of the publishing industry. Whether data, news or commentary, we aim to keep you informed.

1. Publishers are offering resources and literature to assist avid book readers, teachers, students, researchers and medical professionals.

The Association of American Publishers is aggregating a working list of resources and materials dedicated to public consumption. From virtual wellness discussions to children’s story time to free access to the latest research on the novel coronavirus, there’s no denying that #BooksConnectUs.

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2. A dark cloud loomed over World Book and Copyright Day celebrations on April 23.

Publishing Perspectives reports that on April 23, industry leaders issued statements on the grim realities of the book publishing world as “already struggling for oxygen” and facing “catastrophic consequences.” Barely any businesses will come out of the pandemic unscathed; what are the necessary steps for economic recovery?

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3. A triumph for the global audiobooks industry: Is this the future of book publishing and distribution?photo-1571302171876-484bffd73852

Stockholm-based audio book app BookBeat jumped to the #4 most downloaded mobile app after the pandemic, a sign that stories and books are in high demand but not in the way we usually read them. Interviewed by Publishing Perspectives, BookBeat founder Niclas Sandin expects publishers to follow suit with future investments in audio.

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4. The National Emergency Library controversy begs us to redefine copyright laws in the digital age.

Publishers Weekly reports that Internet Archive has launched the National Emergency Library project, which provides 1.4 million scans of 20th century print books free for borrowing for students learning from home. Authors and publishers have pushed back, accusing the organization of piracy. This could mean future revisions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in order to meet the needs of digital libraries, authors, and publishers in the middle.

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5. New works by writers with disabilities hit the shelves, but there’s always room for improving representation.

Publishing Perspectives celebrates need-to-know writers Judith Heumann, Alice Wong, Jaipreet Verdi, and David Egan as they describe their successful book release journeys. But the authors vocalize a shared concern that the lack of representation in the book industry must change in order to include more voices of those with disabilities in the narrative.

Full story here

Reading Francis Hodgson Burnett in a Time of Pandemic

The guest author for this post is Thomas Recchio. He is the author of The Novels of Frances Hodgson Burnett: In “The World of Actual Literature” out May 2020.

As I was writing my study of the novels of Francis Hodgson Burnett, the impact of a pandemic on individual lives, and by extension on society as a whole, did not enter at all into my thinking, despite the importance of a cholera epidemic in the opening chapter of The Secret Garden (1911) and of a typhoid epidemic toward the end of her transatlantic novel The Shuttle (1907).  In my effort to understand Burnett’s novels as a significant literary achievement, I traced a trajectory for her work as a series of variations on the possibilities for women to shape lives for themselves against traditional social forms in the service of male dominance, those forms being underwritten by physical, psychological, class, and financial violence.  That trajectory, however, becomes visible against a background of forces of nature that disrupt male violence by being indifferent to it; in Burnett’s work, nature insists that life has precedence over the social and gender divisions produced by patriarchal power.  Nature’s indifference to social forms (and thus to patriarchal violence) in Burnett’s novels can be seen in the opposing forms of revitalization figured in the cultivation of gardens on the one hand and in the non-discriminatory killing effects of an epidemic on the other.

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There is an extensive bibliography of literary texts that engage the social impact of epidemics, pandemics, or plagues, from Boccaccio’s The Decameron (1353) to Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year (1722) to Mary Shelley’s The Last Man (1826) to Albert Camus’s The Plague (1947) to Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake (2003) to name only a few.  Implicit in much of that literature is the idea of pandemics functioning as moral tests to the societies affected by them, and much of the literature has an apocalyptic feel: the plague either marks the end of society as it is known or it cleanses society to be rebuilt on more humane, egalitarian terms. In The Secret Garden and The Shuttle, however, epidemics are not the focus of either text.  In the former, the epidemic in the opening chapter accounts for young Mary’s loss of her parents; in the latter, the epidemic is one incident in a novel interested in the historical emergence of American ascendancy in the waning years of the British empire. By placing the epidemic as part of a larger, historical narrative arc, Burnett’s novel offers a vision of social resilience and community solidarity based on a residual tradition of social mutuality and care. Rather than apocalyptic or cleansing, Burnett’s interest is on continuity and renewal, on uncovering the social strengths that, though challenged over long periods of time and especially in moments of crisis, enables a society to construct a future that honors its past.

By locating epidemics as either the catalyst for one person’s story or as a critical moment in the historical development of a particular community, Burnett’s novels provide a reflective space where readers can think about their current crisis as a part of human history whose effects become visible in individual experience.  A sense of crisis encourages us to be instantly reactive out of fear, pessimism, or ideological commitment, but novels stand between readers and the crisis of their historical moment, mediating readers’ reactions by providing perspective, focus, and a sense of movement through and beyond the crisis. In our current pandemic moment, Burnett’s novels speak to the importance of moral authority, administrative competence, and community solidarity as stays against the fraying of our social fabric.

Screen Shot 2020-04-24 at 10.55.28 AMThat is especially the case in The Shuttle where a typhoid epidemic begins among transient hop-pickers on an old, decaying English country estate.  Previous generations had drained the estate’s resources, leaving the current heir with nothing but the hop fields and his traditional place of authority over the estate and its contiguous village.  “It could not be said of the villagers,” the narrator observes, “that they were fond of him, but gradually it had been borne in upon them that his word was to be relied on” (The Shuttle 421).  Because he did not flee the epidemic as the villagers had expected, he demonstrated to them his commitment to the estate and the community that both depended on it and sustained it.  “Your health is very much in your own hands,” the heir tells the villagers, before he shows them how to disinfect and air out their cottages as a way to prevent the spread of the disease.  The transient hop-pickers, however, present a different order of problem: without refuge and their numbers suffering most from the ravages of the fever, they need shelter and medical attention.  To provide that, the heir converts his mostly empty country house into a crude hospital, and he supervises the hop-pickers’ care.  The narrator describes how the other holders of estates in the county discussed the heir’s actions:

If he had been a popular man, he might have become a sort of hero; as he was not popular, he was merely a subject for discussion.  The fever-stricken patients had been carried in carts to the [house] and given beds in the ballroom, which had been made into a temporary ward. [. . .] To the simply conservative mind, the idea of filling one’s house with dirty East End hop pickers infected with typhoid seemed too radical.  Surely he could have done something less extraordinary. [. . .] But there were people who approved. (425)

The heir’s forgetfulness of self and unconditional care for the suffering of others becomes the catalyst that brings together divergent social groups whose interests had seemed to be in opposition: the impoverished, transient, urban laborers; the village cottagers and craftsmen; and the landed gentry.  Each group begins to take responsibility for themselves and for each other, the heir’s moral authority emanating from the quality of his actions.  His administrative competence is demonstrated in the cooperation he coordinates among the affected groups. The result is a re-weaving of the social fabric as diverse social groups converge in response to a threat to their common humanity.

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The epidemic in The Shuttle is local, and the heir’s moral authority emerges in the intimacy of his engagement with the crisis, which leads to his own infection.  A world-wide pandemic is not local; national leaders are distant from infected communities.  Thus their moral authority does not emerge through intimacy, but is enacted in the quality of policy decisions and in the fullness and frankness of communication.  In our current moment, moral authority has come at the local level as governors in New York and California communicate honestly and personally about the impact of the pandemic on individual people and the actions required to alleviate suffering.  Local media outlets have provided a platform for doctors and nurses to share in painful detail the impact the virus has on actual bodies, replicating a quality of knowledge available on the smaller, village scale in the past and accessible to readers today via the novel.  Insofar as national media outlets amplify local coverage and track the connection between national policy and local experience, they can make available a quality of understanding akin to that of the novel.  And in the current crisis, that quality of understanding can lead to useful knowledge.

Thomas Recchio is an Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Connecticut.  He is the author of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford: A Publishing History (2009) and the editor of the Norton Critical Edition of Gaskell’s Mary Barton.

His upcoming book The Novels of Francis Hodgson Burnett: In “the World of Actual Literature reads Burnett’s novels in the context of the changing literary field in England and the United States in the years between the death of George Eliot in 1880 through to the Great War.

Anthem Press celebrates Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary

Happy Earth Day 2020!

In honor of the environmental activism that took place on the inaugural Earth Day on April 22, 1970, which led to the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts, Anthem Press is excited to celebrate the titles and dedicated authors who are committed to change-making scholarship.

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Past Title Highlights

9781783087136WORST-CASE ECONOMICS by Frank Ackerman

In both climate change and financial crises, worst-case scenarios and disastrous risks are inescapable. Yet public policy often focuses on average or likely outcomes, minimizing the danger of extreme events. ‘Worst-Case Economics: Extreme Events in Climate and Finance’ explores the underlying causes and the remedies needed for the most serious climate and financial risks.

 
 
 
 

9781783089123THE LABYRINTH OF SUSTAINABILITY by Daniel C. Esty

‘The Labyrinth of Sustainability’ explores the growth of corporate sustainability in Latin America, offering actionable insights to business leaders, policymakers, NGOs, academics and journalists through 12 case studies that examine the challenges and opportunities facing companies across the region as they integrate sustainability into their strategy and operations.

 
 
 
 

9781783089468-_2813_x_4500_pixels__2SUSTAINABILITY IS THE NEW ADVANTAGE by Peter McAteer

“Sustainability Is the New Advantage” is a practical blueprint for leaders who want to start, develop, and grow sustainable organizations. The book provides stories and practical examples of how to assess challenges, create demonstrations projects, and scale the capabilities needed for sustainable business transformation.

 
 
 
 

Upcoming Title Highlights

isbn-4500px_4_CITIES, CLIMATE CHANGE, AND PUBLIC HEALTH by Ella Kim

‘Cities, Climate Change, and Public Health’ examines how cities can use a public health frame of climate change to boost people’s understanding of and concern about climate change and increase policy support for climate adaptation efforts at the local level. It also presents new tools for cities to enhance awareness of and facilitate prioritization of climate risk management choices.

 
 
 
 

9781785274879COMPLEXITY OF TRANSBOUNDARY WATER CONFLICTS by Enamul Choudhury and Shafiqul Islam

‘Complexity of Transboundary Water Conflicts’ seeks to understand transboundary water issues as complex systems with contingent conditions and possibilities. To address those conditions and leverage the possibilities it introduces the concept of enabling conditions as a pragmatic way to identify and act on the emergent possibilities to resolve transboundary water issues.

 
 
 
 

susskindenvprobsolve_ebook_cover9-20-17_2813_x_4500_pixels_2ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEM-SOLVING by Lawrence Susskind, Bruno Verdini, Jessica Gordon, and Yasmin Zaerpoor

‘Environmental Problem-Solving’ offers a self-paced curriculum for college and university students who want to learn the basic techniques government agencies, citizen action groups, corporations and research institutions use to solve pressing environmental problems.

 
 
 
 

Through the Anthem Environment and Sustainability Initiative, Anthem will continue to push the frontiers of environmental scholarship while offering prescriptive advice to policymakers and practitioners, consciously linking theory and practice.

Anthem Press is also proud to announce upcoming updates to Anthem EnviroExperts, a community site involving scientists, policy analysts and activists committed to creating a clearer and deeper understanding of how ecological systems operate at every level, and how they have been damaged by unsustainable development.

Celebrating and protecting the planet doesn’t just end on Earth Day. Sign up for our newsletter to get started!

Anticipatory Governance: Do You Know What That Is?

This is a guest post by Professor Lawrence Susskind, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA and General Editor, Anthem Environment and Sustainability Initiative.

I finally found the right phrase to describe what city planning is, and what city planners do. Planners provide ideas, analyses and organized settings in which governance (i.e. collaborative problem-solving) can take place. And, unlike many other professionals they focus on normative concerns (i.e. what ought to be done?) regarding the future (not just an analysis of what is happening at present). Planners are the facilitators of anticipatory governance.

This doesn’t mean that certain planners don’t do other things as well, but as a profession as a whole, planners are primarily focused on problem-solving and informed decision-making that spotlight the needs and interests of future residents. This includes the needs and interests of current residents and stakeholders as they imagine themselves and their community in the future.

Why Governance Not Government?

In a democratic setting, elected governments have final decision-making authority along with the courts. Yet, representatives of non-elected stakeholders (i.e., interest groups) also have important roles to play in democratic decision-making. Governance networks can help set the public policy agenda and tee up policy or programmatic options for consideration by officials, along with arguments to support them.

To the extent that governance can produce informed consensus proposals, it is not clear why elected and appointed officials would disregard them. If you were an elected official, and I could tell you which action on a policy question would win you unanimous support from all sides, wouldn’t you be inclined to go along? The only reason not to accept a well thought out proposal that all groups publicly support is if a particular political donor or backer secretly disagree with it. I say secretly because as a stakeholder that individual, company or group would be included in the public consensus building effort that generated the proposal in the first place. But, they might want to be seen as supporting common efforts (and so involve themselves in a consensus building effort) while privately trying to sabotage what the group produces. Other than that, though, elected and appointed officials know that continuing to ignore informed consensus recommendations would be political suicide.

In the public realm, the focus is on collective decision-making rather than individual priorities. When we rely on majority rule or raw political discourse, it is easy for elected and appointment officials to disregard competing policy proposals, and do what they want. They can just say that the public was divided, so they had to do what they thought was best. That’s not possible, though, if all interested stakeholders get together to generate a policy proposal that all of them support. If all the relevant groups were consulted, and they all support what is being proposed, it is almost impossible for officials to disregard their suggestions.

In the current political climate, with a clear divide between liberals and conservatives, no action is often the only outcome. But if governance networks take responsibility for working out their differences, whatever larger political divide might exist wouldn’t stop officials from taking action. The product of governance should be informed (i.e. science and other technical considerations must be in the story) policy proposals. Such proposals can only emerge if stakeholders are able to resolve whatever differences they have. While this may sound difficult, it is much easier than many people suspect. Groups take extreme positions when they are in a majority rule situations and they want to ensure their views get attention. They are much more reasonable if they know that everyone’s goal is an informed consensus.

Most, but not all, political action focuses on short-term concerns or commitments. Those in power at any point in time know that a swing in the majority might well lead to a shift in policy down the road. But, if society needs to take action on issues or problems that require consistent support over a longer term (i.e. such policies won’t succeed unless they remain in place for a much longer timeframe than the normal electoral cycle), bi—partisan or multi-partisan support is required. Governance aims to generate support for actions that requires long-term, multi-partisan support, like efforts to address the possible effects of climate change.

Who is the Client?

Meaningful governance requires ad hoc representation of all relevant (and self- identified) stakeholder groups. While it may be difficult at first to identify spokespeople for some unorganized or hard-to-represent interests, it is almost always possible to find acceptable proxies to represent them. Anticipatory governance is client-oriented. That is, it doesn’t authorize a select few to propose action in the name of a vague public interest. Instead, representatives of the full range of relevant stakeholders have to do the hard work of sorting out their differences and generating proposals that they all think are better (for them) than taking no action at all. New online technologies, when used by skilled facilitators, can engage large numbers of people in such collaborative deliberations. And the more this happens, the more skilled and efficient groups will become in identifying spokespeople, and the spokespeople will become successful in reaching an informed consensus on a pressing issue or question that a government body must address.

The clients for the planners who seek to facilitate anticipatory governance cut across all strata and categories of interested stakeholders. However, this is the opposite of advocacy planning — which involves spokespeople who are trying to maximize the interests of only a few stakeholder groups, often at the expense of others. Spokespeople in the context I am describing, must be able to pursue their group’s interests while simultaneously taking account of the interests of others. (This is not a win-lose situation.) This involves crafting agreements through a search for mutual gains, and trading across sub-issues or linked issues the parties value differently. This is what happens in a global context when the sovereignty of nations ensures they can not be bound by an international law or requirements they don’t voluntary accept.

Finding the right participants for each policy dialogue requires careful stakeholder assessment. It also means the number of participants in facilitated anticipatory governance is likely to be pretty large. To begin, a team of neutral facilitators needs to reach out to potential participants, talk with them confidentially and generate a list of possible participants that all stakeholder groups (and elected officials) accept as legitimate. The techniques of stakeholder assessment have been codified and professionalized over the past few decades.

Trades or packages (not single issue deliberation) are usually required to build a consensus on a controversial issue. This can only work if all the relevant stakeholder groups are represented and the process of collaboration is facilitated by skilled neutrals (acceptable to all parties, including the elected officials who will receive whatever recommendations the ad hoc process generates). So, “blue ribbon” participant selection by officials is not acceptable.

The Need for Collaboration and Consensus Building

Once the right stakeholder representatives are assembled (and they might meet in person at the beginning and end of a collaborative process while all the work in between might be done online or by sub-committees), the task of generating an informed agreement can begin. Usually, this requires a period of joint fact finding, involving a range of technical experts acceptable to all the participants. The planners, or neutral facilitators, can bring possible names (and credentials) to the attention of the participants. The experts they choose agree (and are paid) to share what they know, in terms that everyone can understand, with all the participants. This avoids advocacy science where each party seeks expert advisors who will say what they want them to say.

The most useful tool for this kind of collaborative problems solving is scenario planning. This is a technique that imagines a range of possible futures (in which different policies or programs could be pursued even though there is substantial uncertainty about what the future hold. The governance network doesn’t have to agree on how to frame a single version of the issue or problem it has come together to address. It can work simultaneously with multiple futures in mind, looking for policies or actions that will bring about results that are attractive to the participants regardless of which “version of the future” they think is correct. Scenario planning sometimes requires the stakeholder participants to attach probabilities to highly uncertain futures. So, if I want the government to take action to avoid the effects of something that has a small chance of occurring, while you prefer a policy aimed at a future that is more likely, we can agree on a proposal that addresses both of our concerns. We can say to our elected officials, those of us who are most concerned about something that has a 10% chance of occurring (but if it does occur will have impacts that are likely to be devastating), support Policy A. Those of us who define the issue in terms of a future that has a 90% chance of occurring prefer policy B. Our elected officials will have to choose between A and B, but in so doing, they will reveal which version of the future they expect. By involving all of the stakeholders, and engaging in joint fact finding and scenario planning, the participants will be able to narrow the policy choices to two, contingent on which of two futures one selects. The officials involved might choose to adopt policy B in the short-run with a commitment to monitor events and results over time, and agree ahead of time to switch to Policy A if the monitoring shows that a certain threshold has been crossed. This formulation of what needs to be done is one that all parties can endorse, and that officials can feel comfortable supporting. It is also an adaptive approach to policy-making that best accounts for the increasing uncertainty surrounding a great many of the systems at the heart of public policy-making.

Anticipatory governance does not operate on the basis of majority rule. Nor does it require unanimity among all the stakeholder participants. A unanimity rule would allow one holdout to blackmail everyone else. Typically, consensus in these circumstances requires overwhelming agreement, as long as the concerns of outlier participants are clearly addressed by everyone, and all the participants have tried to think of a way of incorporating the outlier’s concerns into the final agreement. Holdouts who disagree, can count on their views and arguments being included as a footnote or appendix to the consensus proposal submitted to the officials who must make the final decision.

Obviously the product of an anticipatory governance effort needs to take the form of a written agreement that all the participants sign on behalf of their organizations or constituencies. While it is not legally binding, it should have an impact, especially when it is widely distributed via social media. It needs to be delivered and explained to the relevant public officials by the planners who facilitated the joint problem-solving effort.

How Should We Educate the Facilitators of Anticipatory Governance?

Some of the skills that planners must master to facilitate anticipatory governance should now be clear. They need to know how to complete a stakeholder assessment. This might require technical background on the issue or question that is the focus of the collaborative effort, so that the interviews they do with potential stakeholders can be completed efficiently. They need to be able to help the group draft and enforce ground rules regarding how they will interact. They also need to know how to organize and manage a joint fact-finding process and a scenario planning effort that lead to the drafting of a written proposal. They have to be able to organize in-person and online dialogues involving quite a few people, and to keep a clear written summary of what groups and sub-groups have agreed. Finally, they need to be able to communicate with public officials, clearly and efficiently, and answer whatever questions might come up about the group’s proposal and the process by which it was developed.

All of this needs to be done in a way that does not betray a personal bias for or against what any of the participants prefer. Any sign of bias is sufficient reason for one or more participants to ask that the planner/facilitator to be replaced. Sometimes, the facilitator needs to organize preparatory efforts for participants who have never participated in such collaborative efforts. This might take the form of a short training course or coaching session.

Many college and university departments that train professional planners might have to augment their faculty and curriculum to ensure that students graduate with the skills I have listed. It is difficult to impart this kind of knowledge and capability if you have never tried to do this work yourself. Graduate students should be encouraged to serve as interns or apprentices to professional planners and facilitators who can tutor them in the relevant techniques.

Finally, planners who hope to facilitate anticipatory governance efforts need to learn how to ensure that organizational or public learning happens. Every process of the kind I am describing offers an opportunity for the participants to “get better” at this form of interaction (while advancing their own organization’s interests). It is important to stop at several points during each process, and certainly at the end, to give the participants time to reflect on what has transpired and to modify their personal theories of practice if necessary.

As I said at the outset, anticipatory governance can occur at any scale. The skills required to facilitate collaborative problem-solving are generally transferable from one scale to another. It is my hope that the requirements of organizational leadership in the private sector, public sector and non-profit sector will soon include the ability to participate effectively in the kind of process I have described. The better prepared the participants are, the more likely it is that they will generate informed agreements that all of them can support. And, when they do, elected and appointed officials should be eager to implement their proposals.

 

Professor Lawrence Susskind is Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning and Head of the Environmental Policy and Planning Group at MIT. One of the founders of the field of environmental dispute resolution, he has been teaching at MIT and Harvard for 45 years.

[Originally posted on https://lawrencesusskind.mit.edu/blog and reproduced here with permission from the author.]